Directed by Baltasar Kormákur. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, Caleb Jones, JK Simmons.
A formulaic film if you’ve ever seen one, it has all the elements but none of the thrills, suspense or hard hitting performances that you’d find in said formulaic films. Like found-out contraband, this film too should be dumped!
Apparently based on a film made in Iceland (the director Kormákur acted in it), Contraband is about a family of smugglers that turn over a new leaf and get out of the business. There’s Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale), their two kids and Kate’s brother Andy (Caleb Jones) as well as their close friend Sebastian (Ben Foster). But little bro Andy decides to make a little extra cash and ends up smuggling cocaine on a freight ship, which eventually gets found out and he has to dump the said stash. But Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), the guy who he’s smuggling in the nose candy for isn’t too pleased and sets out to wreak havoc on the Farraday family who he will ‘finish’ if he is not compensated for the lost goods.
And so… do I need to say how Chris and Co. go about getting the money for Briggs? One last job. Yes, very American, very cliche and very… zzzzzzzzz. I’m not even going to bother to get into the details of what transpires on their little cruise with their C-Team band of corrupt sailors (lead by an even more contemptuous Captain played by the marvelous JK Simmons).
Apart from an armoured car heist there is very little by way of real action in the film. Chris must weather the odds and bring a stash of counterfeit notes back to Briggs, since Chris isn’t a fan of drugs. But Briggs and his secret accomplice have other plans. They egg Chris on by terrorising his family, which Giovanni Ribisi is brilliant at. In fact, his performance is the only fun and interesting thing about the film. Kate Beckinsale doesn’t have much to do and I preferred her infinitely more in her Underworld: Awakening avatar. Wahlberg sleepwalks through the film. He’s a good actor but here he just goes with the motions. Ben Foster is also an interesting character but is underdeveloped.
Contraband is really a B movie, with a lousy script and story that gets by on the strength of some good performances and nothing much else. Even the little twist in the end is so rubbish that you really can’t cheer or be amazed. It evokes just a ‘meh’!